Bodycam video shows 6-year-old girl was not taken from school in handcuffs to be held under Baker Act

Bodycam video shows 6-year-old girl was not taken from school in handcuffs to be held under Baker Act

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax has obtained new body camera video from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office showing officers leading a 6-year-old girl out of school to be held under the Baker Act.

In the video, Nadia Falk appears to be calm and under control, holding hands with a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer.

The video shows that Nadia was not taken from school in handcuffs as her mother Martina Falk originally claimed.

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Nadia gets into the back of a police car with no hesitation or fuss.

“Do you have snacks?” Nadia asks the officer once in the car.

“No, I don’t have any snacks. I wish I did, I’m sorry,” the officer said. “Next time I see you, I’ll make sure I’ll bring some snacks, OK? But you better be being good next time I see you, OK? You can’t be throwing chairs.

Action News Jax’s Dani Bozzini spoke with Nadia’s mother and her attorney about the body camera footage released Thursday.

  • Martina Falk, mother of a 6-year-old that was Baker Acted last week, was very emotional watching the body cam video released Thursday.
  • It shows, from the parts of the video that weren’t blacked out, that she wasn’t taken away in handcuffs.
  • Her attorney tells Action News Jax they just want Nadia to be able to go to school.
  • At the point where they may have to sue.

“I want answers. An apology would be nice, but it isn’t going to fix the pain that I feel watching that video -- knowing that my daughter may have been provoked because their staff were irritated or maybe had a bad day and didn’t want to deal with a special needs child,” Falk said. “It’s hurtful.”

“What you see here is a civil rights violation of a special needs child that is 6 years old,” Falk’s attorney said. “She had a tantrum. Six-year-olds have tantrums. Six-year-olds with special needs have tantrums.”

“The school is designed for children who have special needs. So now, because she’s giving me some problems for a week, according to you, let’s get rid of her. Let’s take her to a mental hospital. Let’s inject her with drugs," Falk’s attorney said.

The attorney added, “Really what we want to see is change.”

Here is the school district’s response to the release of the video and the mother and her lawyers response to the video.

"We were clear in our earliest public statements that the student walked calmly out with the principal and the officer to the police car. Media reports on the video confirm this and also confirm that handcuffs were not used as was originally alleged.

"With regard to the statements made on the video, note that the officers in the video were not present during the events which motivated the school to call Child Guidance, our crisis response care provider. The police officers were also not present when Child Guidance was intervening with the student. It was the mental health counselor from Child Guidance, not the police officer or school personnel, who made the Baker Act decision.

"Our procedure is to call Child Guidance when a student’s crisis is not de-escalating and the student is at risk of self-harm or harming others. Our staff followed that procedure.

"As we stated previously, the student was calm when she left the school, but at that point, Child Guidance had already made the decision to Baker Act based on their intervention with the student. The judgement to Baker Act rested completely with the mental health professional.

“We cannot speak on behalf of Child Guidance regarding decision making in this matter, but we have already requested a leadership meeting with Child Guidance to review this situation.”

The number of children involuntarily transported to a mental health center in Florida has more than doubled in the last 15 years to about 36,000, according to a 2019 report from the Baker Act Reporting Center.

Action News Jax told you this week, a new bill would establish more consistent rules and bill supporters say it should cut back on the number of children who go through it.

“I think it should only be used as a last resort. And Baker Acting a six-year-old just seems excessive to me,” Florida lawmaker Jennifer Webb told CBS This Morning.

On the other hand, some say the Baker Act is necessary to keep other children safe.

WATCH: Martina Falk and her attorney hold news conference after body cam video release:


WHAT IS THE BAKER ACT?
The Baker Act, which was enacted in Florida in 1971, can be recommended by judges, officers and doctors when they believe a person may have a mental illness or could be a danger to themselves or others. A person can be involuntary committed to a clinic for up to 72 hours.

WATCH THE VIDEOS BELOW -- NOTE: Parts of the videos may be redacted, at times resulting in no sound or picture